If you could not give up your salvation voluntarily, then once you become saved you could then go ahead and do whatever you wish. You could steal, murder, cheat, lie, never pray, reject the scriptures, lead others astray, blaspheme God from morning to night - do anything that is sinful, rebellious, and against the laws of God. And you could do all this never confessing and never repenting. To believe that "once saved, always saved" is believing that one has a "license to sin" after the person is born again."
When you were saved you turned to God. Turning to God means the you have committed your life to trusting and obeying God. In John 1:6-7 it says, "If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, purifies us from all sin."
According to this text, "If we walk in the darkness, then we do not live by the truth." If our heart is not repentant when we sin, if our attitude is one of disobedience to the Laws and Commandments of God, if we turn away from God, if we live a life of sin, if we decide the effort to lead a Godly life is not worth it, if the actions of our lives indicate that we no longer desire to be one of God's children, then we don't lose our salvation, and salvation isn't taken from us, but we through our own free will, take our salvation and give it back to God. We tell God we don't want it. We give it up!!!
Ezekiel 3:20 "If the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before them, they shall die".
If you could not give up your salvation voluntarily, then once you become saved you could then go ahead and do whatever you wish. You could steal, murder, cheat, lie, never pray, reject the scriptures, lead others astray, blaspheme God from morning to night - do anything that is sinful, rebellious, and against the laws of God. To believe that "once saved, always saved" is believing that one has a "license to sin" after the person is born again."
So ask yourself this question. What is the only way to gain eternal salvation? There are a great many verses that tell us the answer. Below are just two of them:
Ephesians 2:8-9 "By this undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved through faith, and this not owing to you, it is God's gift."
1Peter 1:5 "Those who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed on the last day.
God makes salvation completely available through Jesus Christ - and not only to specific individuals, but to all who will receive and believe in Jesus Christ as savior. Jesus made this very clear when he said, "Whoever believes in me would not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) The word "whoever" includes everybody. No person is excluded from the opportunity to believe and receive everlasting life.
Your relationship with God, as well as your eternal salvation are based upon faith. Faith that Jesus Christ is who, and what He says he is. And thus if you are committing those sins mentioned in the above paragraph, then you simply don't believe who Jesus is. A person practicing the above sinful actions, certainly indicates that the person no longer has any faith or belief in Jesus Christ.
In other words you can not walk in the darkness unrepentant and still hold onto your salvation. Keep in mind that repentance is much more than stopping the very act of committing those sins that you are asking forgiveness for. Repentance is actually the act of turning away from doing those sins, of not committing them anymore, of changing your life in such a way as you no longer want or desire to commit those sins. You are the one who decides whether to walk in the light or the darkness. God gave you the free will to make your own choices. If you decide to walk in the darkness then your salvation will not be taken away from you, nor will you lose your salvation. No, what you will do is give up your salvation. You will be telling God that your salvation "is not worth the effort it takes to walk in the light". That you do not wish to have his gift of eternal salvation. That you want to make it through this life on your own without any help from God. That you will follow the ways of the world rather than the ways of our Lord. So your own free will determines whether you are going to keep your salvation or give it up. God allows your eternal future to be in your own hands.
Since your own free will is what determines your eternal destiny, then it is very important to note that God will not force anyone to come to him. He is not going to get down on his knees and beg you to believe him, trust him, or accept him. Nor will he force you to love him or demand your obedience. The choice is up to each one of us whether to surrender our lives and our hearts to God or to refuse his love and his blessings. If you don't want any part of Jesus Christ then he is willing to accept that decision since it was made by you through your own free will.
Our Lord did tell us that once we are saved, once we are looking to him for everything, once we have surrendered completely to him, then no one could snatch us away from him.
John 10:28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
So you can't be snatched way, but you sure can walk away.
There are a great many examples of this in the Bible but my favorite is in the book of Mark. It has to do with the story about the time Jesus arrived by boat to a town where he met a demon possessed man who was living in a graveyard. (You can read the entire story in Mark 5:1-21, and it is a great example of people exercising their free will and possibly putting their eternal salvation in jeopardy).
The Bible mentions that this demon possessed man was unusually fierce and dangerous, so much so that the townspeople could not even use the roads in fear that they would be harmed or even killed by this demon possessed man. The demons who resided in this man recognized Jesus and even talked with Jesus, and they knew that Jesus had the power to expel them from the man. So the demons seeing a herd of pigs in the distance, told Jesus that if he was going to expel them from this man, then would Jesus allow the demons to enter into the herd of pigs. So Jesus expelled the demons and the demons left the man and entered into the pigs. Suddenly the pigs realized something was terribly wrong and every single pig rushed over the cliff to their death. The pigs evidently realized that they would rather be dead than to have those demons living within them.
Now the pig herders saw all this happening and they went to the town and told everyone all the details. Verse 17 tells of the townspeople response. "Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area." So the response of the townspeople was to tell Jesus to get out of there because they were holding Jesus responsible for the destruction of a whole herd of pigs. They were furious at Jesus because of this economic loss. All that these people could do was to scream at him because they no longer had this herd of pigs. So you can see that the people's only concern was the economic loss of the pigs.
What is really interesting is Jesus's response.
Jesus didn't try to explain to the townspeople that they no longer had to worry about this very dangerous demon possessed man. That he was no longer a threat to their safety. Nor did Jesus ask them if they wanted to know why this formerly demon possessed man was now able to sit there quietly, fully dressed, and in his right state of mind. Nor did he try to tell them that if he could expel demons from this man, then just think of the demons that he could expel from the rest of the townspeople. Neither did Jesus ask the people if they wanted to find out more about this man who could expel demons or why he even did what he did, or why he even came there in the first place. And Jesus certainly didn't argue with the people that the price of the pigs was rather small compared to their peace of mind and their eternal future. Jesus didn't even ask these people if they wanted to learn about the one who sent him. Jesus didn't do any of these things because he could see that the only thing any of these people really cared about was the economic loss of the pigs. They had their minds all made up and money was the number one thing in their lives. They exerted their free will and told Jesus to leave town and leave town now. They had exercised their free will.
Using their own free will, those people wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Their only interest was in worldly things and because of that, they told Jesus to hit the road and go some place else and kill pigs. Jesus knew exactly what was in their hearts, and that their minds were closed to anything that Jesus had to say. So what did Jesus do? Jesus simply turned around, boarded the boat and proceeded across the water and went into his own city. Without a word, he simply turned and left, and very possibly took with him their eternal salvation.
John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit".
John 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned".
1 Corinthians 10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he is standing, beware, that he does not fall".
If you don't believe this, then simply observe those that worship evil and satan. Notice those that look to the world for answers and observe the incredible turmoil taking place in their lives. Notice the hopelessness and guilt that is there. Do you sense the extreme loss in their lives? Are you aware of the tremendous separation that has taken place between them and God?
A great many Christians today feel that since they got religious and came to Jesus at some point in their past, that this now gives them life time protection from ever losing salvation. That regardless of how ungodly and how sinful they get, they are protected against ever losing salvation. Many of them feel that now all they have to do is simply coast through this life. The fire in their heart has long ago gone out and Jesus Christ no longer plays much of a part in their lives. It is a shame that they don't read and understand so many verses in the Bible like, Ezekiel 18:26 "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies because of the iniquity which he has committed, he will die.
Dedicated Christians are constantly increasing their knowledge of God and inserting this new knowledge into their daily lives. However, those who after a while begin to neglect these things, tend to eventually fall away because they generally are not sufficiently strengthened. That tremendous desire for God that they once had has been suppressed, and now they are unable and unwilling to resist temptation, and they find themselves overcome by the evil in this world.
So what you have in the above example is a believer who is constantly drifting further and further from God and whose heart has become ever harder. Godly principles are abandon. The mind is losing the ability to feel guilt. The conscience no longer matters because nothing is being felt when it comes to right or wrong. The heart becomes cold and dark. The soul has been completely suppressed and God no longer has importance. Soon, the only thing that the person cares about his himself, for nothing else matters. The world has taken control and salvation is no longer present.
Below are just a handful of verses that show that indeed a person can voluntarily walk away from the Lord and become unsaved.
James 1:14-15 "But each one is tempted when he is lured away and enticed by his own desires. Then when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death".
Then a little later in the Book of James he says at James 5:19-20 "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways, will have saved a soul from death".
Here James is talking to Christians, and he is telling them that if any of them should wander away from the truth, then they can consider themselves sinners, and the one who turns or brings them back from their wandering away from the faith, will have saved that soul from death.
Hebrews 3:12-14 "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end."
1 Timothy 1:19 "Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and their faith has been shipwrecked".
Hebrews 2:1 "Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away".
Romans 8:13 "For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live".
1 John 2:4-6 "The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked".
1 Timothy 4:1 "But the Holy Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons".
Deuteronomy 8:11 "Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today".
John 6:66-68 "As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, You do not want to go away also, do you? Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? It is You who has the words of eternal life".
2 Timothy 2:12 "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us".
2 Peter 2:20-21 "They were made free from the evil in the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But if they return to evil things and those things control them, then it is worse for them than it was before. Yes, it would be better for them to have never known the right way than to know it and to turn away from the holy teaching that was given to them."
Matthew 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father."
John 15:4-6 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned".
As you can see, there are a great many verses in the Word of God that tells us that we must endure until the very end, and if you really think about it, faith in Jesus Christ is a continual act of faith; every second, minute and hour of each and every day; because he wants you to maintain your faith in him for your whole life. Jesus also said "take up your cross and follow me" so he wants you to follow him and be obedient to him your entire life. These actions are not a one time or a part time endeavor. They must be followed your entire Christian life; right up till the time you take your very last breath.
There are also two very good verses in the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews which helps to explain the ability for those believers to abandon Jesus Christ and lose their eternal salvation.
Hebrews 10:26-27 "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries."
Hebrews 10:29 "How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit?"
As you can see there are a great many verses in the Bible that refer to the believer being able to voluntarily walk away from the Lord, to take up once again that sinful life, and become unsaved. However I still think the verse that really hits home the hardest is the following.
1 Chronicles 28:9 "If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you leave Him, He will cast you off forever".
The following parable that Jesus Christ himself told, describes the entire spectrum of what people do when they hear the Word of God. Some discard it immediately, not wanting anything at all to do with it. Others hang on to it for a little while, and then abandon it for reasons like it is too much work or they would rather be lead by the world. Others accept it, see value in it, even incorporate it into their lives, but then for one reason or another abandon it. Then you have those who when finally exposed to the Word of God, understand and see it as the absolute truth, and are determined to make it the foundation for the rest of their entire lives. Please note the seed that falls on the rocky soil in verses 6 and 13.
8:4 And when a great multitude were coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable:
8:5 "The sower went out to sow his seeds; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road; and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air ate it up.
8:6 "And other seeds fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
8:7 "And other seeds fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out.
8:8 "And other seeds fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great."
8:9 And His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable might be.
8:10 And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, in order that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
8:11 "Now the parable is this: the seed is the Word of God.
8:12 "And those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved.
8:13 "And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.
8:14 "And the seeds which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
8:15 "And the seeds in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
You can always stop the process of allowing your future eternal salvation from slipping away. A person can also regain their salvation even if they have totally and completely turned their back on God. You can accomplish this by doing the exact same thing that you did when you first were born again - You surrender you life up once again to Jesus Christ. You again make Jesus Christ the center of your life. You put your complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you begin doing, saying, and thinking in the exact same way that the Son of God wants you to. Conducting every second of your daily life the way that the Word of God tells you to conduct it.
In fact, since there is no sin that God will not gladly forgive you of, you can regain and renew your salvation right up to the moment you take your very last human breath. The problem with this however, is that the longer you are away from God, the harder the heart becomes. The eyes become tightly closed to Godly truth without the person even realizing it. The desires and wishes that God has for your life are no longer important. Your love for God evaporates. Your allegiance is now to satan and to the world. And the longer you follow satan the harder it will be for you to ever get back to following God. So the longer you look to the world for guidance and advice, the harder it will be to ever again look to Jesus Christ and regain your salvation.
Maybe the best example of losing your salvation
However, I think the best example of the ability to lose your salvation lies in the parable of the prodigal son. This is the young man who became very dissatisfied at home, and looked to the world for answers. This man turned his back on his father. In his pride and arrogance he left his father's house to go to a far country to experiment and find pleasure with the world and with the sin in it. But soon the fun and games were over. He became famished, lonely, brokenhearted, and dejected. He had wasted his inheritance and fell into great need. During a severe famine, this son had no job and nothing to eat. If the story ended here we can easily see how the prodigal son would have been forever lost to his father. But as long as the son had life and breath in him, he could always go home to his father.
And by God's great grace this young man came to his senses, became sober and began to think clearly and Godly. He made the decision to go back to his father.
In verse 20 of Luke 15 we see this young man going back home. He was now a poor, wretched, miserable, naked specimen of humanity, but he was going home to his father. He mourned and wept as he walked, and when he reached his father, he said, "Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son. Just make me a servant of yours at the lowest rank, for I need to be comforted. Save me, for I am lost."
How did the father react to his son? He cried out in joy and then comforted him. The father hugged and kissed him and gave him a fine garment to wear. He told the servants to put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. He ordered a great celebration with music and feasting.
And when the other son questioned why the father was doing these things, the father said he had the greatest of all reasons: "This son of mine was dead but is now alive; he was lost but now is found" (Luke 15:24). What awesome comfort this son now had.